Showing posts sorted by relevance for query todd craig. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query todd craig. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2013

Meet the MileHighGayGuy Bloggers: Todd Craig

Todd Craig is a freelance writer, teacher, husband, and father to his five year old son, Joshua.

He enjoys making ends meet, golfing poorly, and writing about life's experiences from his home in Colorado Springs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Meet the MileHighGayGuy Bloggers: Todd Craig

Todd Craig is a freelance writer, teacher, husband, and father to his five year old son, Joshua. He enjoys making ends meet, golfing poorly, and writing about life's experiences from his home in Colorado Springs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meet the MileHighGayGuy Bloggers: Todd Craig

MileHighGayGuy blogger Todd Craig is a freelance writer, teacher, husband, and father to his five year old son, Joshua. He enjoys making ends meet, golfing poorly, and writing about life's experiences from his home in Colorado Springs.

Check out some of his articles here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Todd Craig's Top 10: Fandoms

By Todd Craig

When it comes to being a fanboy, you really have to be out and proud with your opinions. I've been thinking about it lately, and with all of the reboots and comebacks of these great francises, there really is no better time to be an out and proud geek than right here and right now.

To that extent, I give to you my list of the top ten fanboy things to geek out about:

10. Indiana Jones - We won't let the current troubles in the state of Indiana sully Indy's three great adventures. (And to that extent, we'll also pretend that hot mess of a fourth movie never happened.) Why? Because the first film is quite possibly the greatest action/adventure movie ever made. The second and third films are alternately dark and twisted then fun and poignant. No better popcorn movies have ever been made, and I can't wait to show these to our son in a few years.

9. Sherlock Holmes - Countless incarnations from the original books to the new Sir Ian McKellen movie out soon keep bringing this character back to life. Not sure this would have made the list except for Benedict Cumberbatch's version, which manages to capture the exact brilliance and arrogance (as well as the bromance with Watson) of this timeless hero in a new and modern context. Honorable mention goes to the Star Trek the Next Generation story arc that features Data as Mr. Holmes and a holodeck Moriarty that comes to life, too.

8. Harry Potter - I taught fifth grade when the first movie came out, and oh boy, I remember the excitement and then rather harsh reviews that came with that first movie not having EVERYTHING exact. Those kids had every word and every scene of those books memorized and envisioned in their heads. The movies are kind of hit and miss for me, with sheer moments of brilliance scattered among some average movie making. But stories like these come along once in a lifetime -- if you're lucky. And we are VERY, VERY lucky.

7. Battlestar Galactica - Forgive the saggy, baggy series finale and the forgettable spin offs. How someone took a rather cheesy Star Wars rip off of the late 70s television and turned it into a dark, political thriller that analyzes humanity's worst impulses by contrasting them with our occasional acts of loyalty, brilliance, and sacrifice, is nothing short of brilliant. These episodes were so dense, thrilling, and dark that we couldn't Netflix-stream them for too long. We'd watch a few episodes, let them percolate, come back in a month, and wonder how the rest of entertainment wasn't this brilliant.

6. Lord of the Rings - Brilliant books, mostly brilliant movies. As with Harry Potter, worlds as rich in beauty and detail as these aren't created often. Nor are heroes of such small stature contrasted with so mighty of tasks. Perhaps it's these contrasts which ultimately make Mr. Tolkein's classics so wonderful. We'll forgive Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies, I suppose, since he honored the series with his first trilogy, which can be watched and re-watched without losing any of the magic of the books -- a trick seldom accomplished by Hollywood.

5. The X-Files - Again, we'll selectively forget about the Duchovny-less season, The Lone Gunmen spin-off, and two barely adequate movies. At its peak, The X-Files captured imagination and paid homage to everything from cop-dramas to horror movie standards. Mulder and Scully took aliens and conspiracy theories and somehow used them to contrast the worlds of faith and science to find humanity somewhere in between. Sure the blocky cell phones look a little dated (heck, there were more pay phones in the first season), but the story-telling here is nothing short of superb. And the moments of terror, disgust, humor, love, and wonder ring as true now as they did back in the 90s.

4. Star Wars - Words can't describe the adoration George Lucas's creation has brought to the world. Yes, we can hate on JarJar and The Phantom Menace for all eternity, and Lucas's umpteen reworkings of the original films for that matter as well, but, oh those original films! Never has story telling felt so out-there and so elemental at the same time. The soaring John Williams score and the light saber battles are classic in every sense, as are the spine tingling moments of heroism from the destruction of the Death Star to Han Solo's swagger just before being frozen in carbonite. Every boy's sense of imagination and heroism is ignited here by Lucas's mythology. And like all great myths, these stories are continuing to be told, retold, reimagined, and expounded upon. Now that's one in a million, kid.

3. Bond. James Bond - Books, music, fashion, cars, and of course, the movies. There's something about James Bond that transcends every other spy, cop, or detective story. Is it Sean Connery's machismo? The perfect cut on his tailored suit? The ruthless nature of someone licensed to kill? The cars? The women? The sex? The iconic theme? Whatever it is, it's a character that has set the standard for everyone detective and action hero that's followed. Pick your favorite Bond actor, Bond flick, Bond song, Bond car. Nobody does it better, indeed.

2. Marvel - It took Hollywood a long time to get comic books right. Superman and Batman had their moments on screen for sure. But Marvel consistently and brilliantly doubles down on itself - getting bigger, badder, and more human with its story-telling with each and every movie it makes. Sometime in the future, we'll look back on the movies that started with Iron Man and Robert Downey Junior and remark at how they revolutionized movie making, story-telling, and our idea of what it means to be a hero. These stories have been there for decades, often stored in boxes in the closest of grown little boys' old bedrooms. But they're just now starting to come to life for everyone else, and that really is something to marvel at.

1. Star Trek - Fortunately, I was giving a test in my classroom when the news of Leonard Nimoy's death broke. It wasn't really a surprise, but I really couldn't keep tears back. Spock was dead. Of course, I couldn't keep tears back in the Wrath of Khan either when I first saw it in theaters. Nor could I maintain my sense of wonder watching those reruns of the original series on tv on the weekends of my youth. Nor could I contain my excitement as the story-telling on the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager took leaps and bounds into a future that seems so much a possibility that we can almost reach out and touch it. And that's why Star Trek deserves the number one spot here. More so than any other entry on this list - it has inspired. And it keeps on inspiring. Its legacy reaches into our very history of our civil rights and expands all the way into our future with our technology and our vision of who we can be when we work together. With it's 50th anniversary coming up, it's still boldly going where no one has gone before, and that is definitely cause to geek out.

Have an addition to add or want to argue with my ranking? Leave a comment!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fatherhood, Part Two

By Todd Craig
As I said before, the word fatherhood carries some powerful connotations with it.
I know this because five and a half years ago, my husband and I became parents when we adopted an infant boy, and ever since, I’ve taken on the title of father to my son.
Let me first say that fatherhood shapes you unlike anything else.  Things that used to be important, like which club you’d meet up at on Friday night, fade quickly into the past.  Routines and structure become more and more important.  You start doing things that only responsible adults do like shopping for life insurance, reading the nutrition labels on your grocery store items, and talking about the importance of things like keeping yesterday’s pair of Lightning McQueen underwear from hanging off the bookshelf.
In short, you become a dad.
When I was single, I would always get to that point in the relationship where you start looking long term.  I was greedy, I would tell my prospective boyfriends.  I wanted the house, the fenced yard, and kids.  I wanted a family.
Most of the boys I dated would echo the same thoughts, but from their mouths it always sounded more like an echo than an honest statement of desire.  How many of them felt as seriously as I did about having a family?  I don’t know. 
So when the man who would become my husband and I began getting serious, we talked at length of the future and of having kids; it was something we both wanted.  As our relationship evolved, so did our plans.  We soon found ourselves engaged.  We held a commitment ceremony, and we bought a house in the suburbs of Colorado Springs within two years of our first date.   The house had three bedrooms.
We hired an adoption agency up in Denver about six months later.
The agency had never worked with two dads before. They told us they only worked with fifty couples at a time and profiled couples that had been on the list the longest to prospective birth mothers first.  They told us that the average wait for a couple was approximately a year, but because we were a gay male couple, the wait time might double for us.   Undeterred, we filled out the forms that summer knowing that we could use the years of waiting to get ourselves emotionally and financially as prepared as possible.
Four months later in October, a birth mother picked us.
She gave birth on Halloween. That weekend, she asked to meet us before going through with the adoption. We met at a local restaurant. There we held this beautiful little three-day old baby boy in our arms.
We left without hearing a decision. We arrived home and sat on the sofa in a silent ball of emotions for a couple of hours.  We put in a DVD to kill time and fill the dead air.  It didn’t help.
Then the phone rang.  
We were dads.
We picked up our son that Sunday.  He was five days old.
Those first few years flew by in a blur of sleepless nights with a crying baby, and endless trips to our local Target for formula and diapers.  Life as we had known it was wiped out in a nuclear explosion called fatherhood. More than once, we would exchange what-the-hell-did-we-get-ourselves-into types of glances at hearing the 3 a.m. cries echoing down the hallway.
But just when we were about to snap our mental caps, our little guy started sleeping through the night.  Soon, he was growing, babbling a few words, and crawling his way straight into our hearts.
Now that he’s age five and a half, I find that the role of dad to this little boy has grown in significance.  He wants me to throw the football with him in the back yard; he follows me throughout the day just happy to be in my presence.  I am constantly aware of how this little boy looks up to my person, repeats the words that I say, and takes his cues from my actions.
He’s five and a half now.  If I’m lucky, I’ll have another twelve to thirteen years or so to teach him the things that he’ll need to be a man.  I want to instill so much into my son.  I want him to demonstrate respect.  I want him to make change for a dollar in his head.  I want him to open doors for ladies, read passionately, and laugh at his mistakes while still learning from them.  I want him to fight through the tough times, take advantage of the quiet times, and pursue his passions with undeniable enthusiasm and energy.  I want him to feel at home in nature, to stand up for the little guy, and to know the words to at least three Adele songs.  He should be able to throw a football in a tight spiral, to dance without looking too foolish, and to feel the love and support of his parents each and every day of his life.  I want him to bound out of bed like he does now, ready for life and ready for fun.  I want him to be excited for ladybugs, homemade sugar cookies, and Christmas presents – even when he’s 18.  I want him to play more board games than video games.  I want him to love his Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Lightning McQueen toys for another ten years. After all, we have a fuck-ton of money spent on those.
Is all of that too much to teach to one boy?  And how in the hell did my dad do all of this? 
So now my husband and I find ourselves stressing things like being polite and teaching him how to open the door for others, and even though he tends to block the doorway with his little body, he gets the idea.  The highlight of my day is reading his favorite bedtime stories at night, and he loves picking out the story for the night by himself.  We get excited taking him to movies, volunteering in his classroom, and planning his birthday parties.
In short, fatherhood is what our lives are all about anymore.  Dance clubs, ten-dollar martinis, and tight shirts no longer exist in our world.  We may be gay dads, but it's that label of dads that defines us.
Recently, this was illustrated when we took a trip to Las Vegas for a convention for my husband’s work.  There’s a huge jewelry show there every year, and my husband couldn’t believe that he’d finally get to experience it for himself.
While we were a little nervous at leaving our son’s side for the first time in five years for the trip, it helped when we made arrangements with my parents to come down and watch him for the duration of the five-day trip.  It’s hard to be too traumatized with missing your parents when your grandparents are in town.  It probably also helps that visits from grandma and grandpa are slightly more lucrative than visits from Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Las Vegas proved to be a great time, however, parenthood’s talons held us in a firm grasp as we were in bed by 11:00 all but one night.
Our biggest expense of the trip wasn’t money for the slot machines or the poker tables; it was our trip to the Disney Outlet.
When we our return flight finally touched down, we arrived home late at night, well after our son’s bedtime by a long shot.   While we were tempted to sneak into his room and wake him up, we resisted the urge.  For as fun as it was being in Vegas, it sure felt good to get back home and back to being a dad. 
This last idea was driven home the next morning when I was woken up by a very soft kiss from a certain five-year old boy that afterwards whispered quietly into my ear, "I missed you while you weren't here, daddy!"
Damn.  Fatherhood is powerful stuff, but you know what?  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Life Lessons: A Gay Man Turns 30

By Todd Craig

In school, our favorite teachers were the ones who inherently understood you. They knew when you were struggling. They knew when to help and when to back off. They knew when you needed encouragement or an attaboy. Those teachers radiated kindness, compassion, and thoughtfulness as they escorted you through everything from cursive writing to graphing equations.

They just knew you.

Life is not that teacher.

Life’s lessons are usually cruel. Cold is a good adjective. Life doesn’t care about you, your feelings, or anything else for that matter. Life’s lesson is that you are the slowest gazelle in a field of lions.

Last weekend, my husband experienced one of those life lessons.

You see, last August he turned 30 – or in gay years 112. Thirty is a big milestone because it means you’re well beyond prom, cheap beer, and going out on Thursday nights amongst other things.

I can speak with authority on this subject because 30 for me was twelve years ago. (Side note #1: I realize this also means, as the great philosopher Billy Idol once opined, that I “rocked the cradle of love” when it came to selecting a husband. My response is: Yes. Yes I did.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

MileHighGayGuys Discuss DOMA and Marriage Equality: Todd Craig

"On the night after the big Supreme Court rulings against DOMA and refusing to hear Prop 8, while gays across our country celebrated, my husband stewed angrily.

'For most of us, nothing changed,' he said, livid at the celebrations going on around him on Facebook and otherwise.

There was no consoling him out of his mood.
And after some reflection on my part, it occurred to me he’s right.

While gays and lesbians in same sex marriages celebrated wildly, the rest of us were left to watch and wait and wish. Our turn will come someday.

Well, someday sucks.

No one, repeat no one, likes to watch someone else enjoy something you want but can’t have.

Here in Colorado, it has never been more apparent that civil unions aren’t civil; with no federal recognition, they’re separate and unequal and decidedly lesser.  The time for marriage equality is now.
What the Supreme Court ruled muddied the waters for those of us who live in states like ours. On the surface nothing changed, and beneath the surface lay a murky mess of unanswered questions and a bounty of legal loopholes and codified contradictions between the state and federal levels of government.

The Denver Post reported that Colorado’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman could be challenged with a ballot initiative, provided we gather a little over 85,000 signatures statewide.

Let’s get cracking.

This is the time when our political lobby has to step up, not back off. (One Colorado, I’m looking in your direction.) We need to have a ballot measure drafted. We need to start collecting signatures now.  The polling shows us that we have the support. Our governor backs us. Our legislature backs us. We have the momentum.

We need to strike while the iron is hot.

And while that’s going on, we need someone to file a lawsuit against the current amendment. The Supremes did us a solid by laying the groundwork for how to attack codified discrimination. It doesn’t stand the test of fairness, so it deserves a vigorous challenge. Legal precedent has now been established.

As individuals, we need to follow Minnesota’s lead. We need to talk with our friends, our families, and our neighbors about what marriage equality means. We need to talk about fairness and compassion.  We need to talk with everyone and campaign for everyone’s support. If it can work in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, it can work in Colorful Colorado, too.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. 

When we were kids, we brought cupcakes to school on our birthday. We made sure to note how many kids were in our class so that everyone could have one. Why? Because it was fair, and when you celebrate, you want to celebrate with everyone.

The Supreme Court rulings were nice, I suppose. And we’re a little bit closer to free, I suppose.  But it’s no fun watching other kids eating cupcakes when you don’t get one. 

So rather than wait for someone to hand us a cupcake, let’s grab some ingredients and get started.  We’ve got some work to do, Colorado.

The time is now. The support is there. The momentum is ours. The goal is worthy.  

Then we can truly celebrate."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Time Is Having Its Way With Me

By Todd Craig
As of April 29, 2013, I am 42 years old. 
For as long as I’ve lived, being gay has been a young man’s game made up mostly of drinking, dancing, and sleeping around.  At yes, at 42, I’ve discovered that age has its trappings.
My hair is thinning, and what hair I have left is graying.  I work out like crazy - not to get swoll, bruh - but to keep from being swollen from that one carb that I ate last week.  To wit: a few weeks ago, after a ridiculously tough workout, I slumped over in the steam room afterwards, exhausted and frustrated at my lack of progress.  There protruding from the middle of my unchiseled pecs was a bright white chest hair.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
There are other indicators that time is beginning to have its way with me, and they’re not all physical.  I can’t think of a single movie in the theater that I want to go see right now.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even know any of the titles, what any of them are about, nor even know who’s in them.  I really only want to see movies with Meryl Streep, and I’ll wait until they come out on DVD so I don’t have to wait in line for an overpriced ticket, thank you very much.
I can’t even pretend to be young either.  I look better in a button-down and slacks than I do in a designer t-shirt and jeans.   I drink vodka, not beer. Taco Bell doesn’t sound good anymore, and besides I’d need three days to work it off again at the gym.  Saving for retirement is more important than driving a new car.  I buy shoes on clearance.  At Kohl’s.
At some point in the last ten years, I turned… middle aged.
And as hellish as it sounds, I don’t think I’d trade it for anything.
First of all, I’m married. I have been with the same man for almost a decade now, and we make a pretty impressive team. The whole dating scene is long since gone, and I don’t miss it in the slightest.  Being young and single has its perks, but not one of them is equal to waking up with my husband draped around my body, snuggled up all warm and cozy as he does every morning.   When we change the sheets, we’ve worn ruts in the mattress where we sleep.  After eight years we laugh at the same jokes, and we know how one another thinks.  We exchange glances so nuanced that we have entire conversations without using words.  Long gone are the days of wondering what he’s thinking about.
Good riddance.
We also have a family in a little six year old boy who is full of energy, love, hugs, and farts – not necessarily in that order.  He bounds out of bed at 7 on Saturday mornings excited for breakfast and cartoons and the new day and his Star Wars Legos.  Sure, when I was single, I could sleep in until noon, but now I stumble out of bed, pull on some jammy pants, and start making pancakes.  It’s what we dads do.
Who needs sleep when you have blueberry pancakes?
And now, instead of weekends of drinking and dancing, I mow the lawn.  Sometimes, I sneak out of bed early to watch CBS Sunday Morning and read the paper in the quiet of the morning.  That’s about as exciting or sexy as my life gets anymore.
What my life is though is fulfilling.  Together with my husband, we’ve built a nice home, a beautiful family, and with apologies to Jimmy Stewart, a wonderful life.
The generations before me weren’t so lucky.  AIDS killed too many before they even reached 42; being gay was a young man’s game because very few lived to see middle age. Before that, an unhealthy mix of discrimination, fear, hatred, and societal expectations forced others into trying to live straight lives based in deceit and dishonesty.
So here I am, a gay man age 42:  husband, father, career man.  I live a rich, beautiful, life rooted in openness and love in a way that weren’t really possible for those generations before me.  For that, I’m grateful.
Certain aspects of gay life are best left to the young, I suppose.  The dancefloor is a place for twenty-something hardbodies.  I’ll let their plates be full with looking good, expensive fashions, and trying to get laid.  
My plate is full enough already with these blueberry pancakes for my son. 
And shhhh…  don’t tell anyone, but I kinda prefer it that way.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Three Men and a Third-Grader: Living for Lakeside

By Todd Craig

Summer’s end is supposed to revolve around lazy days and last minute adventures. These are supposed to be days of baseball and bike rides, teary beer bottles and flaking sunburns, all accompanied with the syncopated hum of locusts, mosquitoes, and air conditioners.

For my husband, our eight-year-old son, Joshua, and myself, the end of summer proved none of these things.

Instead, our summer ended abruptly on July 18, the day our contractors showed up to repair the damage cause by a leaky roof that needed a full replacement as well as the drywall in our guest bedroom and foyer. The following week, the transmission crapped out on my 2007 Chevy Aveo, a repair that would drag on for another two and a half weeks.

Bills piled up around us like fall’s leaves, essentially signaling an end to Summer 2015 -- making it the summer that died in July.

Despite all of the problems, this past weekend remedied all that. Jobs and school and schedules and unpaid bills be damned; summer shouldn’t end with the drum beats of hammers on your roof and Netflix in the basement, I vowed.

So in a moment of Clark Griswold-inspired fatherhood frenzy, I packed up my husband and 8-year-old son, grabbed our family friend David (Smith, MileHighGayGuy columnist and owner of Stonewall Fitness) who is an expert on rides and roller coasters, and drove to Lakeside Amusement Park for a sun-baked Sunday in the shadows of suburban Denver.

Lakeside represents a lost monument to summers past. It’s dusty and decrepit, with peeling paint, and rides that groan and rattle like the bones of an aging athlete. Trees and weeds, growing through the skeletons of rides long-abandoned, have overtaken a good fourth of the park.

Lakeside looked like us: exhausted.

And yet.

We climbed into our first ride, The Whip, the oldest still-functioning ride in the park. Vaguely reminiscent of an old-timey Tilt-a-Whirl, the giggles and screams that erupted from our son started at his toes and burst from his lips with such unadulterated joy, that I swear it echoed throughout the park. The giant gears sent our pod clattering and clunking around the corners that shook the old boards at the base awake just as it stirred up the ghosts of summers past for one more spin.

“That. Was. Awesome!” Joshua exclaimed afterwards.

To paraphrase Monty Python, suddenly summer, like Lakeside itself, wasn’t quite dead.

Up next, the old Cyclone coaster with its wooden rails, worn seatbelts, and rickety, whitewashed structure enthralled my son to no end. The first lurch forward sent a shiver down my son’s spine. His hands squeezed the handlebars that had locked us into our seat together. The wind rushed by as the coaster picked up speed, clacking and clanking up the rail. The first twist and subsequent precipitous fall sent screams of terror erupting from my son; he was somewhere between hysterical panic and pure exultation.

“I thought my skin was peeling off!” he blissfully exclaimed afterwards. “Let’s do that again!”

And again we did, and with other rides, too. The Satellite with rockets where Joshua could control the up and down movement proved a favorite. Bumper cars. Bumper boats. The carrousel. The Dragon. The Chipmunk. The Spider. Ride after ride after ride went by, until time slowed, and summer breathed again with long, slow, and steady breaths.

Alive again, summer sang.

We dined on stale pizza and nachos coated with golden gooey cheesy perfection that had been ripening for months. We gulped water and sodas. We lathered on sunscreen. We rode rides two or three times spinning ourselves silly. We basked in the glow of summer’s end.

On the car ride home, our thrilled little boy, two-weeks into being a big third grader now, babbled endlessly about each ride, exclaiming each one as his favorite before declaring Lakeside as the best thing in the world.

That night, after we had tucked our son into bed, my husband and I sat on the sofa emotionally exhausted and, like our bill-inundated bank account, thoroughly spent.
Parenting can sometimes leave you like that, of course.

But you know what? Our family’s summer felt old and broken until this past weekend, overwhelmed by an old and broken roof, soggy and sagging drywall, and a car’s transmission on a mission of failure. 2015 looked like the summer that never was.

At least until Lakeside’s old bones stirred summer back to life. Suddenly, we realized that, like the Satellite ride, we could control our own up and down movements, and Lakeside magically let us soar as a family into a summer sunset as memorable as an eight-year-old’s best time ever.

Well done, Lakeside. Well done, old girl.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chick-fil-A: Picking teams when it's "us" versus "them"

By Todd Craig

This whole Chick-Fil-A controversy has induced a rallying cry by the religious right.  Recently, news reports have former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee urging like-minded Christians to support the company on August 1 in an effort to counter the recent bad-publicity the chain has received since its leader made statements that they are “guilty as charged” for supporting anti-gay organizations with their profits.
From Huckabee’s point of view, this is an us-versus-them moment.
But then I got to thinking about it?  Who really is on the anti-gay side any more?  And conversely, who’s on ours?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
For anti-gay team, their starting line up includes The Westboro Baptist Church and their leader Fred Phelps who has blamed the 9/11 attacks on gays, which is amongst their more timid of other stomach-churning statements.   And let’s not forget the other proud defenders of the faith they can proudly stand next to like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who both stated that gays caused natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.  Yes, they’ll have to be feeling proud to stand next to the intellectual forces of Fred, Jerry, and Pat.
But let’s not just pick on the religious crazies that make up their team.  Let’s talk about the world leaders gay-haters get to stand next to.  This list is pretty impressive, and their starting line up is pretty tough to beat.  First, there’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insisted that Iran doesn’t torture homosexuals because there are none in Iran. Huh. Who knew?  I wonder where they all went, don’t you? 
Next, are the Ugandan warlords/politicians who, spurred on by U.S. religious wing-nuts like Rick Warren, have vowed to persecute, jail, and sentence the death penalty on same-sex loving people. Oh!  This is an impressive group, isn’t it??
And who’s that over there coming down the anti-gay red carpet?  Oh yes, gay-haters can rally along with Russian president Vladmir Putin whose government has recently cracked down on homosexual activity and messages in public. 
Russia, Iran, Uganda, oh my! 
They gotta be feeling pretty proud right about now.
Oh, and before we go, they also get to stand with Al Qaeda.  Yep.  Earlier this spring Al Qaeda threatened to turn the streets red with gays’ blood if a gay pride parade took place in Azerbaijan.
Feelin’ good about the company you keep yet, gay haters?
On the flip side of the coin, let’s look at who supports us gays.
Well, for starters we have the leaders of the free world on our side.  Yep.  We have the current president, vice-president, and secretary of state who are all for gay rights and gay marriage.  (I know, I know.  They’re all Democrats, you say.  But we also have the previous Republican vice-president, Dick Cheney, too.  Surprise!) 
I know you have the Boy Scouts and Chick-Fil-A and Wal-Mart's conservative leanings are well-documented.  That’s pretty sweet, I guess.  A quick glance at Wikipedia’s list of supporters of same-sex marriage page tells me our side is gonna have to be stuck with Apple, Microsoft, Pepsi, Coke, General Mills, Levi’s, Walt Disney, Amazon, Costco, J.C. Penny, Kraft, GM, Ford, Hilton, Home Depot, American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines, McDonalds, Applebees, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Starbucks, UPS, Google, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. 
Pretty much every major company on the Fortune 500 this side of Wal-Mart.  And that's just for starters.
Oh, and the Girl Scouts.  So take that, haters.
According to the Huffington Post, our side will also have to suffer a few radicals as well.  We’ll get Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Charles Barkley, Steven Spielberg, Russell Simmons, Daniel Radcliff, and George Clooney for starters.
We’ll also have music from Eminem, Pink, Elton John, Queen, and the B-52s. 

We'll laugh heartily with Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman, and Jon Stewart.  Yep, this is gonna be a killer party once it gets going, isn't it?

But how will we complete with countries like Russia, Iran, and Uganda in the gay-hate corner?
We’ll have to settle for entire countries that already have marriage equality like The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina, and we’ll throw in Israel, France, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Mexico, and Brazil that are all looking currently to expand the rights of their gay and lesbian citizenry.

We also get New England, Massachusetts, New York, the nation's capital, the cornfields of Iowa, and the west coast of the United States.  
So what’s the lesson to be had here?  If a person is supposedly defined by the company that he or she keeps, well, I’m guessing gays and their supporters will sleep pretty well knowing who their friends are and the direction that they're helping us all to go.
And for those who don’t support gay rights, they may want to look at that list of those who agree with them.  Fred Phelps, Ugandan warlords, and Al Qaeda may be extremists of anti-gay rhetoric and actions, but it's a microscopically thin line between supporting your religious beliefs and flat-out working to promote discrimination, hatred, and persecution.
To paraphrase the Italian proverb, when you keep company with good men, you’ll increase their number.
That’s why we gays and our supporters will always stand up against the likes of Chick-Fil-A, and it’s why we will win in the long run no matter how many people share a sandwich with Huckabee on August 1.
Because the good people are on our side, and they’re increasing in number.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Face to Facebook

By Todd Craig

You gotta love Facebook.

Sure, it’s the bane of existence to employers, and it’s a distraction for those of us who are trying to get something done.

But recently, Facebook did for me what Facebook does best:  It connected me with the people and organizations that I know and love, and they in turn, have me smiling from ear to ear.

So what’s brought that smile to my face?  A cute-captioned kitten picture?  An obscene e-card forward?

Nope.  Wayyyyy better.  Read on.

The day started with a beautiful letter posted in the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s Facebook page.  It was a letter written by a young man, a junior at the University of Wyoming who attended a Matthew Shepard Foundation sponsored concert and was so inspired by what he heard from San Francisco’s and Denver’s Gay Men's Choruses that he phoned his parents and came out on the spot.

It was a thank you letter from this young man.  An honest and beautiful thank you letter for the inspiration he received, felt, and responded to.

How awesome is that?

Later that day, I discovered myself at the gym.  (Author’s note: Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who will check my email and Facebook on my smartphone between sets.  What?  You’d rather I stare vacantly into space while I catch my breath?)

Anyway, my cellphone's screen contained a post from one of my former students on his Facebook page.   I had taught him in an advanced reading class during his fifth grade year nearly a decade ago.  He’s a hockey player now and a student at the University of South Carolina.  His post today was a multi-paragraph letter that reached this conclusion:

“…my generation is faced with another civil rights challenge... So I have decided to take a stand, to reach out a hand and to vocalize my opinion. I may not be gay, but that does not mean the people around me who are are any less of "people". They deserve the same rights, the same opportunities and above all the same respect.”

Pretty good, eh?

I won’t be arrogant enough nor naive enough to say that I was the teacher here who made the difference here.  He’s had dozens of other teachers, mentors, coaches, and professors since I taught him in fifth grade.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not damned proud of the young man he’s grown to become.  His statements put a smile on my face like no other.

And smiling is especially critical during weeks like these.  Recent weeks have been especially brutal for us gays.  Both Chick-Fil-A and the Boy Scouts of America took their backwards beliefs to new heights and proudly stood on the side of gay hate and flat-out stupidity.

We’re all familiar by now with the pathetic nature of these organizations' statements and actions.  But these words are still gut punches to each and every member our gay family.  Their words are still hateful.  Their words represent discrimination based on out-of-date fears and hypocritical moral righteousness. 

And yet …

As depressing and hurtful as these gutshots are from corporate America, I’ll put my faith in these two young men who crossed my Facebook path today.   Two college guys, one in Wyoming and one in South Carolina, found the strength, inspiration, and passion to step up today.

The gays of this world have a new member to our family and a new supporter to our cause, and I like our odds with them on our side - chicken sandwiches and merit badges be damned! 

That’s why I’m smiling.

Monday, July 15, 2013

After DOMA, Prop 8. Rulings: A Little Less Conversation; A Little More Action, Please

By Todd Craig

A few weeks have passed since the Supreme Court rulings against DOMA and Prop 8. In that time, states across the union have jumped at the opportunity to further the cause of marriage equality. Gay groups in Illinois, which has a civil unions law and a gay marriage ban, are legally challenging the second-class status such laws mandate.

In Pennsylvania, the A.C.L.U. has challenged the legality of that state’s gay marriage ban, using the Supreme Court’s rulings as the template to dismantle the discriminatory statute.

And in Colorado? Well, we’re apparently listening to the crickets chirping.

In a July 2 article published in OutFront, One Colorado director Brad Clark outlined the vision for Colorado’s main LGBT advocacy group’s path towards marriage equality: town hall meetings this fall “… aimed at discussing the path forward.”

Let me get this straight (pun intended): While other states already have lawsuits in motion fighting for marriage equality, our primary political lobbying group here in Colorado is planning meetings to discuss what to do?

Does anybody else feel let down by this?

Sure, One Colorado wants to be deliberate here. They know that we lost an election before, and they clearly don’t want to lose again. Although in retrospect, 2006 might as well have been 1956 for all of the change that has happened since, and the polls certainly would agree.

To be critical, it’s obvious that other states and their LGBT groups have already held their discussions and have decided that now is the time to act. In Colorado, I guess talking about acting is supposed to be as good as acting itself.

It’s not.

I realize that our gay marriage ban is written into the state constitution, and I get that no such ban has ever been overturned in the history of our country. It’s a big task; I get that. I really do.

But what I also realize is that the Colorado’s constitution has been changed over 150 times. From a legal standpoint, we have one of the most easily amendable constitutions in the country. On the day after the Supreme Court’s rulings, the Denver Post reported that a ballot measure to void the amendment in question could be easily held by gathering just more than 85,000 signatures statewide.

So yeah ... shouldn’t we get started on that?

I realize that elections are expensive and require man-power, money, and coordination in massive doses.

Elections may be expensive, but talk is cheap.

I realize you need to have political networks, savvy leadership, a vision for success, and the wherewithal to make it happen.

I thought that maybe we already had that in place based on the political victories extolled by One Colorado in the legislature and in last November’s elections. They certainly had no qualms celebrating the Supreme Court’s rulings by sending out a series of fundraising emails, one of which from Brad Clark featured the line: “But there’s something else we know – something that gives us incredible hope today. We know that in every corner of this state, Coloradans have shown they are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all couples – straight and gay alike. And in the coming weeks and months, we must come together as a community to ensure that conversation is carried out.”

Lovely prose, I suppose. But if Coloradoans are so ready to have the conversation about marriage equality to the point where we’re encouraged to donate our hard-earned dollars to the cause, why are we so not ready to have an election or to file a lawsuit? What have Pennsylvania and Illinois got, that Colorado doesn’t?

Besides quick and decisive action on the marriage equality front, that is?

Here in Colorado with nothing but talk on the horizon, we’re left to watch and wait and settle for second rate. Apparently, while other states have coordinated their efforts into action, all that we LGBT Coloradans can look forward to this fall is discussing a path forward.

Someone once said that talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand. In the more colorful parts of Colorado, talk is all we’re getting on marriage equality from our own LGBT political leadership, despite our low demand for it.

Perhaps then, when supplied something lesser, it’s time to demand better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Presidential Election: Time for gay Colorado to ante up

By Todd Craig

I love card games, especially poker.  I also love poker because it makes for a good metaphor, especially when it comes to politics.

Since the gay rights movement began, we’ve been fighting an uphill battle for acceptance, understanding, and compassion.  We’ve also been fighting a mostly losing battle when it comes to politics.  Until recently, we haven’t been able to command a clear majority when it comes to gay-themed political issues.

In other words, we’ve been dealt relatively weak political poker hands to play, lacking power, face cards, and opportunities to bet big and win big.

Here in Colorado, we’ve done the smart thing.  Gay rights groups have aligned our political efforts strongly with state Democrats to target smaller races at the state and local levels to give a strong fundraising edge to gay-friendly politicians who have in turn been able to advocate and expand our rights from the ground up.

Considering that the poker hands they’ve been dealt haven’t been slam-dunks by any stretch of the imagination, they’ve had extraordinary results.  They’ve known that in politics, much like poker, if you don’t have a winning hand, your best option is to whittle away here and there and make enough progress to keep your momentum alive.

But this election coming up in November is something far different.

In case you missed the last five million Romney or Obama ads on every channel of your television, let me take a minute to tell you that there’s an election coming up in a few months, and Colorado’s purple mountains are a key battle ground that could swing the election one way or the other.

This is a big election, especially for us gays.  It represents our first big hand.

For the first time in the history of our nation we have an incumbent president and vice president who are ready, willing, and able to do something for marriage equality and expanding equal rights for gay Americans at the federal level.  The Obama, Biden, and Clinton triumvirate has done more for us than any other administration in history.  And more importantly, for the first time in history we have a president, vice-president, and secretary of state who all advocate for marriage equality.

There is no overestimating how big that reality is.

On the other hand, there’s Mitt Romney, who’s own website says that “… he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”

That’s right.  The guy wants to rewrite the Constitution to legalize discrimination against us.

Romney’s campaign is currently going all in, outraising Obama and purchasing a blitzkrieg of ads with the support of a Republican fundraising machine that’s all but declared war on the current President and his gay-friendly positions for the last four years.

So what are we doing here in Colorado?

Well the news of the month features a group called Fight Back Colorado, a group dedicated to opposing state legislators who blocked the civil unions bill last spring.

Kinda seems like small potatoes, doesn’t it?

I’ll be honest, I’m on record as being pretty lukewarm about the whole civil unions thing.  I appreciate progress, but I appreciate total equality a heckuva lot more, and civil unions are just too separate-but-equal for my liking.

And it seems to me that in the poker game of politics, we gays here in Colorado finally have a chance to make a difference, a huge difference in the biggest poker game of all, the presidential election.

We’ve finally got the face cards and the poker hand we need to win big on a national scale.

So let’s ante up.  Let’s quit playing these little games and go for the big win.  Let’s tell our political groups to aim higher and to think bigger.

Let’s think about what we can do to turn this state in Obama’s favor.

Let’s dedicate all of our money, our talent, our social networking, our media savvy, and our political muscle to try to win this swing state for Obama.  Let’s get him a second term.  Let’s allow him to nominate Supreme Court justices who are more than conservative puppets.  Let’s make the most powerful American and the leader of the free world our most powerful ally for another four years.  Let's give our first president to support marriage equality the chance to make it happen.

We don’t have to think small anymore.  This is our moon shot.  We have three queens who deserve a pair of fours.

So I’m calling on our state political groups to think big for the next four months.  I want to see One Colorado’s facebook page with its 5000-plus likes filled with reasons to vote Obama.  I want Fight Back Colorado to fight back against the Republican machine that’s playing for keeps at the national level.   This election is about going big or going home, so let’s do just that.

These groups will do a helluva lot more for Colorado’s gay community if they go all in on the national election as opposed to harboring grudges towards state legislators who beat them in last spring’s civil union debacle.  Even if they win their current focus on snagging those precious two or three seats to get civil unions passed, the whole kit and kaboodle could be lost if Romney wins and has the opportunity to write his homo hate into our nation’s Constitution.

Politics, like poker, is all about recognizing the moment.  Here’s hoping our LGBT political players make the most of our best hand ever.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Marriage Equality: Feeling the Earth Move Under Our Feet

By Todd Craig

What a crazy couple of weeks, huh?

The Supreme Court finally heard the challenges to DOMA and Prop 8, gay marriage once again firmly took control of the news and social media, and now…

Now we wait.

But while we’re waiting, was it just me, or, with apologies to Carole King, did you feel the earth move under your feet?

Evolution doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen over the course of a couple of weeks, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel that way.

I woke up the morning of the hearings primed and ready to go. I logged in, monitored the live twitter feeds and Supreme Court blogs. I dutifully changed my Facebook profile picture to the HRC equal sign logo and donned red for the morning’s festivities.

By midday, my Facebook was a stream of pro-equality memes. By the afternoon, everyone’s profile picture represented equality. By evening, my gym was filled with guys wearing red workout clothes. By nightfall, I felt something very strange.

I felt equal.

The Supreme Court should rule on both cases sometime in June. Sure, I’ll hope for widespread rulings, but I doubt that will happen. Who really knows?

But a better question might be: Who really cares?

Rush Limbaugh
Seriously, there’s no way to lose here. If the Supreme Court’s ruling is wide ranging, hooray! We’ll get married as soon as possible. If the Supreme Court’s ruling is narrow, the outrage that will occur will only inspire the momentum into further action. We’ll go out there and earn our rights the hard way, state-by-state, election-by-election.

After what happened this week, I’m not sure there is anyone who can stop us now. Momentum is on our side. Even Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly came out in support of gay marriage, while uber-right-wing-blowhard Rush Limbaugh acknowledged that gay marriage was inevitable. I mean, c’mon, for those two to be saying things like that, well, that’s not just the sound of evolution, that’s the sound of the other side admitting defeat.

Sure, there are still haters out there. But they’re sounding more alone and more shrill by the minute.

What I do know is that for the first time in my nearly 42 years of life, I didn’t feel different. I didn’t feel like a gay outsider in a straights-only America. I felt like my concerns were heard. I felt understood. I felt like my friends, my family, and my country stood up and said that they really did feel like all men were created equal. I felt that someday soon, I wouldn’t be getting a commitment ceremony or a civil union; I felt that someday soon I‘d get married.

That’s huge.

There’s no other explanation for the evolutionary leap other than the earth literally is moving under our feet. The sky is tumblin’ down.

After seeing all those news reports, after seeing all of those equality signs, my heart - again with apologies to Carole King - really begin tremblin’.

Because soon, gay marriage will be around.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chick-Fil-A: On the frontlines of the culture wars

By Todd Craig
Yesterday, Facebook made me smile.

Today, it made me sad.  Sad because I noticed that my marriage rights were reduced to culture war-status as the religious right fired back against the Chick-Fil-A boycott movement.

Two people from my Facebook friends list posted a graphic saying, "I support Chick-Fil-A."

Normally, I let that sort of thing go.  I don't expect everybody to agree with me on every political issue.

But not today.  This time, it's personal.

So I wrote.  It's what I do.  Feel free to copy and paste this anywhere you see a "I support Chick-Fil-A" graphic on the internet:

The problem when you post a graphic saying that you support Chick-Fil-A is that you're supporting a company who uses their profits to support discriminatory laws against a specific segment of the American population.  These actions SEGREGATE.  These actions DISCRIMINATE - specifically against me, my husband, our son and families like mine.  Chick-Fil-A may have the right to do that, but that doesn't make it right.

It might feel good to choose a side in the culture wars, but in supporting Chick-Fil-A, you ally yourself with such blessed luminaries as the Westboro Baptist Church.  They're on your side, you know!  Aren't you proud?  Sure, your graphic doesn't say God Hates Fags, but it's now implied that you do. 

But on an even more serious note, there are over 1,000 rights and benefits that come with marriage at the federal level.  Chick-Fil-A uses their freedom to limit others' freedom in regard to those rights. That is unabashedly un-American.  If I don't follow your religious beliefs, the beautiful thing is that I don't have to go to your church.  That's freedom of religion! But I don't try to pass laws to limit your religion, nor do I support any businesses who would. Conversely, I hope that if you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't get one.  I wish you wouldn't try to pass laws limiting my family's freedom or support businesses who would. 

Apparently not, however.  I'm not going to lie, seeing this graphic hurts. It hurts terribly.

This whole thing isn't about Christians versus gays.  It's about the law.  It's about those 1000+ rights denied to hundreds of thousands (over 600,000 according to the last census) of gay and lesbian couples and our children.  We are hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who deserve nothing less than same treatment under the law. We are Americans after all, too.  We may not be equals in your belief system, but your belief system isn't the law.  We should all be equal in the eyes of the law regardless of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddist, or Atheist beliefs. That's American. 

That's why the outcry against Chick-Fil-A is so strong.  Freedom and equality in the eyes of the law are very much worth the outcry; it's supposed to be self-evident that we are all created equal, after all. 

And that's the ultimate definition of what it means to be an American.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On Orlando, Rainbows, Wyoming, and Pride

By Todd Craig

My husband and I left this past weekend to road trip to South Dakota to retrieve our 9 year old son who had spent some time after school let out in my hometown of Rapid City with his grandparents. As we inched our way up north on a maddeningly backed-up I-25, hours seemed like days. Our frustration built. The first leg of our drive to Cheyenne existed as a normal two and a half hour drive away, and yet after three hours we weren’t even close to the state border.

There’s something about sitting and staring at brake lights that renders us our most powerless. We grip the wheel a little bit tighter. We crawl around in our heads letting emotions spin. We begin to see others next to us as opponents or obstacles.

By the time our stop-and-go traffic lurched past Fort Collins, my body had physically tightened, and my brow had furrowed. This road trip’s beginning had warped and twisted itself into something somewhere between awful and torturous. I wanted justification for it all.

Finally after hitting the Wyoming border and skirting one last set of brake lights through a construction zone, traffic eased. The glorious 80 mile per hour speed limit in Wyoming took over. We sped on.

In the distance, we watched one of those typical prairie rainstorms so common to Wyoming and the upper Midwest as it thundered eastward. Nature has a way, especially in these wild, empty, and vast spaces of America, of asserting both her power and beauty in ways that can stir the soul and frighten one senseless. The towering clouds with ominous gray blurs of rain at the bottom looked to be just beyond our path. We felt grateful knowing that we would likely not cross its path. The road was empty and clear, and my speeds climbed faster and faster.

Until they stopped altogether.

As you wind your way past the gas station town of Chugwater, Wyoming, there’s a vast open expanse of prairie just to the east dotted with a few scraggly trees and buttes in the distance. It’s a quintessential sight in the Wyoming landscape, both perfect in its wild beauty and in its fulfillment of one’s expectations of how Wyoming should look.

We’ve driven past this place a hundred times without so much as a second thought.

But tonight, nature had other ideas. Caught somewhere between the sunset and the thunderstorm, nature, Wyoming, and life had conspired to, in this place, paint the sky with the most wonderous of rainbows. We gasped, open-mouthed, at the sight of the most empty and rugged landscape lit by the setting sun and completely overshadowed by the blackened storm clouds. In one shot the view captured not just the darkness of the skies, but the raw green beauty of the earth, and framed it in the pure, glorious color of the rainbow.

Cars pulled over. Old ranchers in their battered Ford trucks stopped and gaped. Rushed tourists exited the highway and piled out of their cars with cell phone cameras in hand.

My husband and I stopped, too. We snapped photos like everyone else. We took it in. We had no choice. No one did. Doing 80 miles per hour past this would have been sacrilege.

The road trip, which began with four hours of man-made frustration, anger, and impatience, led us to this place. This moment. This perfection. It was the rainbow of a lifetime. It thrilled everyone there. It inspired people from all walks of life to pull over and take in big sights and think big thoughts. For a moment we all stopped and shared its beauty.


Two days later, we would wake up to news of the Orlando massacre. Surely, life couldn’t get uglier or more awful than this. My emotions vacillated from sadness to anger to rage and back to sadness again as Sunday wore painfully on and the news reports grew increasingly worse.

There will be lots to sort out over the upcoming weeks beginning with the heart-breaking eulogies for the dead and our facing and mourning their loss. We will discuss again the necessity of gun restrictions. We will reflect upon about how we treat our minorities – queer, ethnic, and otherwise. We will honestly look our leaders and want-to-be leaders in the eye and ask them if they act out of love and seek to unify us or do they seek to play on our fears and build walls between us. We will hopefully move beyond thoughts and prayers and head straight to action towards building a more perfect union and a better country for our children and ourselves.

This morning, as I scrolled through my facebook feed, I came across an article listing the names of the murdered dead that shared bits and pieces of some of the victim’s stories. I’ve forced myself to read each one in an effort to rationalize the tragedy and to remember the fallen. The article featured a photograph centered on a tiny rainbow pride flag planted at a makeshift memorial for the dead, a poignant picture using the symbol of our gay pride as the symbol of our collective mourning. And I kept thinking back to that Wyoming rainbow – the play of light and dark, the dance of emptiness and beauty, and the randomness of time, place, and moment.

But mostly I remembered about how that Wyoming rainbow stopped us all in our tracks and made us look up. Of how it forced us to reconcile ourselves and our humanity to the vastness and power of nature and life.

And maybe, for the first time in my adult queer life, I appreciate the true strength and beauty of the pride rainbow. I hope that it, like its natural counterpart, will inspire us to stop together this day and night and look up. That the pride rainbow in 2016 should spur us to remember the injustices we’ve suffered in the past, the lives that we have lost, the beautiful people we have grown to become in this moment, and the bright future we want to forge together.

Such is the nature and power of rainbows, I think.

And such is the nature and power of Pride.